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January 28, 2014 > Showcase of CaliforniaÕs best student ensembles

Showcase of CaliforniaÕs best student ensembles

Submitted By Queenie Chong

Hopkins Junior High SchoolÕs Music Department recently offered two free concerts featuring four groups of elementary musicians of the Mission attendance area.

The Advanced Elementary Band (AEB), comprised of 6th graders from Chadbourne, Gomes, Mission San Jose, and Mission Valley Elementary Schools, is taught by Mr. Greg Conway, HopkinsÕ Director of Instrumental Music, and designed to build on the studentsÕ previous instrumental knowledge and help them attain the correct level for placement in band in the 7th grade. During their 2-hour weekly meeting for the entire school year, students not only engage in large group rehearsals on concert performance literature, but also have the opportunity to work with specialists on their particular instruments in order to better prepare them for entrance into junior high and high school music programs.

Also featured at the AEB concert was HopkinsÕ Wind Ensemble, the most advanced concert band class offered to its junior high students. For the past five years, HopkinsÕ Wind Ensemble has received Superior (1st Place AA Middle School Concert Band; 1st Place Overall Concert Band) ratings at each Music in the Parks Festival, held in May at Disneyland, Anaheim. For the same period, Wind Ensemble has garnered Unanimous Superior ratings at all California Music Education Association (CMEA) Band Festivals.

Of the 95 junior high students who were qualified to play in the Northern California Band Association (NCBA) All-Northern Honor Band held at Stockton earlier this year, 48 were selected from Hopkins, and 31 of them are members of its Wind Ensemble.

At the 2014 All-State Music Education Conference organized by the California Band Directors Association (CBDA), 20 Hopkins students will enjoy the honor of performing at an all-state ensemble in Fresno in February. At home, 39 Hopkins band students have been accepted by Fremont Unified School District Honor Band to perform at its annual concert.

At the AEB Concert, Hopkins also showcased 4th to 6th grade string musicians from the Mission area. Under the direction of Ms. Sofia Fojas, the Beginning & Intermediate Orchestras meet once a week for the school year to learn anything from basic music theory, tone production, correct playing techniques, performance techniques, to harmony and musical independence.

The Advanced Elementary Orchestra performed as well and is instructed by Mr. Conway. This group consists of 4th to 6th graders in the Mission area who have had at least two years of experience playing an orchestra instrument. Asked if there is any advice for parents of fledgling musicians who aspire to joining HopkinsÕ very strong music program, Mr. Conway stated, ÒThere are many, many reasons to study music. I encourage your child to start early, as young as 4th grade, in order to take the most advantage of a valuable music education.Ó

HopkinsÕ Advanced Orchestra group was represented at the concert and has been an adjudicatorsÕ favorite, rated Superior (1st Place AA Middle School String Orchestra; 1st Place Overall Orchestra) for the past six years at the Music in the Parks Festival. Having received perfect scores of Ò100Ó for three of the last four years, the Advanced Orchestra is the only ensemble of any kind to get a perfect score at that festival over that period of time. WhatÕs more, ever since HopkinsÕ orchestra program was founded in 2007, the Advanced Orchestra has annually celebrated its Unanimous Superior ratings (highest rating possible) achieved at the annual CMEA Orchestra Festival.

On February, 14 students from this group will have the privilege to play at the California Orchestra Directors AssociationÕs (CODA)Õs 2014 All-State Junior High School Orchestra.
Hopkins Music Director, Mr. Conway, says, ÒFor many of our elementary musicians, these concerts will represent their first performance opportunity of the school year. Being able to enjoy live music played by CaliforniaÕs best is a treat for them and for us all.Ó

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